Daily Archives: January 9, 2020

BrandSafway announces agreement to acquire AGF Access Group, Inc.

Strengthening BrandSafway’s position as the premier vertical access solutions provider with enhanced product range, expertise and manufacturing capabilities

Kennesaw, Georgia, USA, Jan. 09, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — BrandSafway has signed an agreement to acquire AGF Access Group, Inc., headquartered in L’Assomption, Quebec, with two manufacturing sites in Canada and 24 branches across North America. Focused on renting, selling and manufacturing vertical access products through its own branches and an independent dealer network, AGF Access Group provides turnkey solutions for both small-scale as well as multibillion-dollar commercial construction and refurbishment projects.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us to partner with a leader in motorized access equipment, enabling us to grow our market presence in mast climbing, suspended access solutions, elevators and building maintenance units throughout North America,” said Dave Witsken, president of Energy and Industrial at BrandSafway. “With a dedicated team of engineers, a strong distribution network, world-class manufacturing and experienced leadership, AGF Access Group will bring great value to BrandSafway. As a combined entity, we will be able to provide an even wider range of access solutions.”

AGF Access Group includes four divisions, two world-class product groups – Hydro Mobile and Winsafe – and two successful rental units – AGF Access, which includes recent acquisitions IEQ, Jamco Construction and Noxxent, and Hydro Rents.

“We’re thrilled to be joining the BrandSafway team,” said Vincent Dequoy, president of AGF Group. “We look forward to working together to leverage our complementary businesses for growth. AGF will be able to expand its mast climbing and suspended access business throughout North America and provide more services and products to existing customers as well. This is an exciting time for AGF, our employees and our customers.”

“Our combined customers in North America will benefit from specialized knowledge in vertical access, a broader range of solutions and greater depth of expertise,” agreed Witsken. “Together, we can deliver custom and highly efficient access and scaffolding solutions for commercial, infrastructure and industrial projects.”

The closing of this transaction is anticipated in early 2020.

About BrandSafway
With a commitment to safety as its foremost value, BrandSafway provides the broadest range of solutions with the greatest depth of expertise to the industrial, commercial and infrastructure markets. Through a network of 330 strategic locations across 30 countries and more than 38,000 employees, BrandSafway delivers a full range of forming, shoring, scaffolding, work access and industrial service solutions. BrandSafway supports maintenance and refurbishment projects as well as new construction and expansion plans with unmatched service from expert local labor and management. Today’s BrandSafway is At Work For You™ — leveraging innovation and economies of scale to increase safety and productivity, while remaining nimble and responsive. For more information about BrandSafway, visit www.brandsafway.com.

Karla Cuculi
BrandSafway
262-523-6580
KCuculi@BrandSafway.com

VistaJet World Presents: A One-Of-A-Kind Japanese Adventure to Celebrate Chinese New Year

VistaJet World

VIstaJet World: Masters of Japan

VistaJet

VistaJet Global 6000

HONG KONG, Jan. 09, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — To celebrate the coming Year of the Rat, VistaJet, the first and only global private aviation company, is unveiling a one-of-a-kind Japanese adventure as part of VistaJet World – its comprehensive portfolio of unique multi-stop travel experiences across the world.

Holidaymakers across Asia will be taking to the skies for Chinese New Year this January, and Japan is proving to be one of the most popular destinations this year. From discovering the secrets of Sumo in Tokyo, to the serenity of rural Karuizawa, the geisha culture of Kyoto, and the country traditions of Oita, VistaJet’s uniquely tailored itinerary of Japan’s most exclusive and authentic experiences promises to restore mind, body and soul.

Tokyo

Fly with VistaJet from anywhere in the world at any time to begin your Japanese adventure with the world’s top Sumo wrestlers in Tokyo. Get to know this year’s champions over dinner and discover the secrets to success in this uniquely Japanese sport, before watching them in action in the ring. Learn the ways of the Samurai by taking a sword-fighting lesson with Kill Bill choreographer Tetsuro Shimaguchi. For food lovers, awaken your senses with an early morning visit to Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market guided by a local master chef to sample some of Japan’s finest delicacies.

Karuizawa

A short hop from Tokyo is the idyllic town of Karuizawa, set amid luscious mountains, gushing rivers and picturesque surrounding villages. Shishi-iwa House – a boutique hotel designed by Pritzker prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban, is welcoming VistaJet customers between January 17th and February 17th for a specially tailored service at its newly opened restorative sanctuary. Bathe in the forest at the Sengataki waterfalls, and sample local Nagano wines, Karuizawa whisky or the region’s 10 types of tea. Admire Shishi-iwa House’s exquisite art collection including original works by Japanese Gutai masters and international abstract expressionists such as Jiro Yoshihara, Toshimitsu Imai, Zao Wou-Ki, and Günther Förg.

Kyoto

In Japan’s cultural capital, visit the finest Nishijin textile makers to see how the final touches are made to your kimono with techniques dating back more than 1,200 years. Experience a geisha dinner and ceremonies with tea and incense masters, surrounded by the famous weeping cherry blossom trees of Maruyama-koen, the oldest park in Kyoto.

Oita

Experience Japan off the beaten track on the north-eastern island of Kyushu, where the city of Oita plays host to more thermal hot springs than anywhere else in the country. These onsen form part of a traditional culture that comes to life through the region’s many local harvest festivals. Join the locals planting rice in the fields as they sing songs passed down over generations, then witness a Kagura performance, an ancient theatrical dance dedicated to the gods.

“Japan has become one of the most popular destinations for Asian customers in recent years, especially Chinese travelers. We have seen double-digit year-on-year growth in both the China and Japan markets in the third quarter of 2019, which is one of the reasons VistaJet World is bringing customers this ultimate bespoke Japanese experience for Chinese New Year holidaymakers,” says Ian Moore, VistaJet’s Chief Commercial Officer.

“VistaJet Members are not only guaranteed aircraft availability during the peak travel season, and simply only pay for the hours they fly, but also enjoy unparalleled access to some of the world’s most incredible personalized experiences accompanied by VistaJet’s above-and-beyond service,” Moore adds.

Many more exciting journeys have been tailor-made for Members by VistaJet World, from tracking the path of an eclipse across Chile’s Atacama Desert to an exclusive wine tour of Argentina. Dive into the dizzying, inimitable vibrance of India, or join the frontline of an anti-poaching safari in South Africa and Madagascar – VistaJet World’s spectacular array of journeys offers bespoke services that create the ultimate personalized adventures.

For more information on VistaJet World, visit https://www.vistajet.com/privateoffice

Media Contact
Amy Yang
VistaJet
T: +852 2901 0502
amy.yang@vistajet.com

Angela Wong
CatchOn
T: +852 -2807 0600
angela.wong@catchonco.com

About VistaJet
VistaJet is the first and only global aviation company. On its fleet of over 70 silver and red business jets, VistaJet has flown corporations, governments and private clients to 187 countries, covering 96% of the world. Founded in 2004, the company pioneered an innovative business model where customers have access to an entire fleet whilst paying only for the hours they fly, free of the responsibilities and asset risks linked to aircraft ownership. VistaJet’s signature Program membership offers customers a bespoke subscription of flight hours on its fleet of mid and long-range jets, to fly them anytime, anywhere. Customers can also request Direct one-off flights through the industry’s first end-to-end booking app or a 24/7 global team.

VistaJet is part of Vista Global Holding – the world leading business aviation group, integrating a unique portfolio of companies offering asset light solutions to cover all key aspects of business aviation.

More VistaJet information and news at vistajet.com

VistaJet and its subsidiaries are not U.S. direct air carriers.  VistaJet Limited is a European air carrier that operates 9H registered aircraft under its Maltese Air Operator Certificate No. MT-17. VistaJet US Inc. and VistaJet Online and Mobile Services Limited are air charter brokers and do not operate aircraft. All VistaJet-owned and U.S. registered aircraft are operated by properly licensed U.S. direct air carriers.

Photos accompanying this announcement are available at

https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/20456033-cdf7-4f6c-ab4e-f6b74201534d

https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/5bb1a507-ea64-4b7f-b362-9042a293de71

Soul Machines Raises US$40M Series B From Global Investment Community to Advance the Way Humans and Machines Collaborate

Round Led by Temasek With Participation From Lakestar and Salesforce Ventures Along With Further Investment From Horizons Ventures

AUCKLAND, New Zealand, Jan. 09, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Soul Machines, the ground-breaking company re-imagining how humans connect with machines, today announced its US$40 million series B financing. Soul Machines is an AGI Research company developing the world’s leading Autonomous Animation platform to help humanize brands and the ways people engage with them. The investment was led by Temasek from Singapore, with participation from Lakestar, a leading European Venture Fund, and Salesforce Ventures, along with further investment from existing investors Horizons Ventures, University of Auckland Inventors Fund and others from their earlier rounds. With the funds, Soul Machines plans to continue expanding globally with specific focus on R&D and increasing its operating footprint around the world to meet growing demand.

Soul Machines was founded by Academy Award winner Mark Sagar and serial entrepreneur Greg Cross in 2016 when it was spun out of the University of Auckland. Together, technology pioneers Sagar and Cross are fusing AI, computational brain models and experiential learning to usher in a new era of customer experience. With Soul Machines’ technology, their clients’ Digital Heroes are able to democratize personal experience in a way that has not been previously possible.

“We have enjoyed getting to know and work with the teams at Temasek, Lakestar and Salesforce Ventures and believe they are the perfect partners to help as we continue to expand and grow our business, technology and client base globally,” said Greg Cross, Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer, Soul Machines. “We are very grateful for the continued support from Horizons Ventures who are highly valued partners that understand how great technology businesses are built.”

Soul Machines has deployed its HumanOS™ platform and created Digital Heroes for some of the biggest global brands in retail, automotive, banking and finance with customers including Procter & Gamble, Bank ABC, The Royal Bank of Scotland and more. Key initiatives in the education and healthcare fields are underway as well with Soul Machines. The Soul Machines’ technology creates a new kind of customer experience and overall engagement. Brands now have the opportunity to create a digital version of their ambassadors or an entirely digitally employee, like a service agent, to more effectively interact with their fans and customers in meaningful ways.

“We’re proud to announce Salesforce Ventures’ investment in Soul Machines because it has an obsessive focus on improving customer experience by using artificial intelligence technology in new ways,” said Rob Keith, Head of Australia, Salesforce Ventures. “We look forward to continuing to work with Soul Machines as it scales and realises its global aspirations.”

ABOUT SOUL MACHINES™
Soul Machines™ is a ground-breaking, high-tech company of AI researchers, neuroscientists, psychologists, artists, and innovative thinkers, re-imagining how we connect with machines. The company brings technology to life by creating incredibly lifelike, emotionally responsive, Digital Heroes with personality and character that allow machines to talk to us face-to-face. Their vision is to humanize artificial intelligence to better humanity. Soul Machines™ is now deploying the world’s first digital humans with some of the biggest corporate brands in the world in Banking and Finance, Software and Technology, Automotive, Healthcare, Energy, and Education industries. Soul Machines currently has over 120 employees with offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, London, Tokyo, Melbourne and Auckland. The company has a deep research and engineering talent pool with 4 Professors and 18 PHDs. For more about Soul Machines™, visit www.soulmachines.com.

ABOUT LAKESTAR
Lakestar is one of Europe’s leading venture capital firm investing in technology companies led by exceptional entrepreneurs. Early investments included Skype, Spotify, Facebook and Airbnb. Since raising a first fund in 2013, Lakestar manages an aggregated volume of EUR 1bn across three early stage funds, and more recently a growth fund. Lakestar has expanded and broadened their portfolio, with more recent investments in Harry’s, Opendoor, Oscar, GYG, Glovo, Sennder, Eigen, FiveAI and Revolut. Lakestar has presence in Berlin, Zurich and London. Lakestar helps companies to identify new markets and expand into them rapidly, with a focus on the US and Europe. The team advises and supports portfolio companies in business development, recruitment, technology and marketing. The investments range from early stage companies to those in their growth stage.

ABOUT SALESFORCE VENTURES
Salesforce Ventures—Salesforce’s corporate investment group—invests in the next generation of enterprise technology to help companies connect with their customers in entirely new ways. Portfolio companies receive funding as well as access to the world’s largest cloud ecosystem and the guidance of Salesforce’s innovators and executives. With Salesforce Ventures, portfolio companies can also leverage Salesforce’s expertise in corporate philanthropy by joining Pledge 1% to make giving back part of their business model. Salesforce has invested in more than 150 enterprise cloud startups since 2009. For more information, please visit www.salesforce.com/ventures.

Contact:
For Soul Machines
Alyssa Ross
+1 732-221-9036
media@soulmachines.com

General Fusion enters strategic partnership with Hatch

Global engineering firm invests in General Fusion and prototype program

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Jan. 09, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — General Fusion announced today that it has entered into an industrial partnership with Hatch Ltd. (Hatch) to bring power plant engineering and other expertise to its Fusion Demonstration Plant project.  This partnership includes an investment by Hatch into the recently announced General Fusion USD $65 million Series E financing round.

Hatch is a leading global engineering and construction firm with a strong record of success with both demonstration and commercial programs.  It brings recognized power plant design, siting, licensing, and other specialized capabilities to General Fusion in support of the development and deployment of its Fusion Demonstration Plant.  This prototype, which is planned to be completed and tested over the next five years, will demonstrate the company’s Magnetized Target Fusion (MTF) technology at power plant-relevant scale.

“Success in commercializing fusion technology depends on strong engagement by stakeholders in the global energy industry,” said Chief Executive Officer Christofer Mowry.  “Hatch is highly respected and capable.  They understand the realities of power plant engineering and will help ensure we develop a practical and on-demand cleantech that finally enables the energy transition we are all talking about.”

Fusion energy is expected to provide a new source of socially acceptable and economically competitive carbon-free electricity for the world.  Commercially viable fusion power plant technology will complement renewable energy sources and storage solutions to provide a practical transition to our zero-carbon energy future.  Ongoing advances in fusion science and enabling technologies are accelerating the global pivot from fusion research to commercialization.

“Hatch sees General Fusion and its technology as a potential game changer for the production of sustainable, carbon-free energy,” said Hatch’s Global Managing Director, Energy, Robert Francki.  “We are proud to be an integral part of this important step in General Fusion’s path to commercialization.”

About General Fusion
General Fusion is pursuing the fastest and most practical path to commercial fusion energy, and is based in Vancouver, Canada, with locations in Washington D.C., and London, U.K.  The company was established in 2002 and is funded by a global syndicate of leading energy venture capital firms, industry leaders, and technology pioneers.  Learn more at www.generalfusion.com.

About Hatch
Whatever our clients envision, our engineers can design and build.  With over six decades of business and technical experience in the energy, infrastructure, and mining sectors, we know your business and understand that your challenges are changing rapidly.  We respond quickly with solutions that are smarter, more efficient and innovative.  We draw upon our 9,000 staff with experience in over 150 countries to challenge the status quo and create positive change for our clients, our employees, and the communities we serve.  Find out more at www.hatch.com.

For more information:

Paul Sullivan
Office: +1 604 685 4742
Mobile: +1 604 603 7358
paul.sullivan@generalfusion.com

Lindsay Janca
Office: +1 905 403 4199
media@hatch.com

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Digital Health Study: Estonia overtakes Denmark as European eHealth Champion

“Annual European eHealth Survey 2019″ from HIMSS, in cooperation with McKinsey, identifies key concerns in the European healthcare Industry

BERLIN, Jan. 09, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Cybersecurity, interoperability, and patient empowerment are major concerns in the European healthcare industry, according to the latest “Annual European eHealth Survey 2019” which surveyed over 500 professionals in the field. The study, which was conducted by HIMSS in cooperation with the management consultancy firm McKinsey & Company, also finds that  Estonia has swapped places with Denmark and is now perceived to be the leading eHealth country in Europe; EU citizens, for example, can retrieve medication prescribed electronically by doctors in Finland in Estonian pharmacies.

Major Trends: Patient health records and telemedicine services

The Annual European eHealth Survey 2019, which has now been published in its 3rd edition, shows that the development of the eHealth industry in Europe is increasingly focusing on “patient empowerment”, the ability of patients to not only access and use their own health records, but also to contribute to these records with self-generated data.

Digital patient empowerment requires a more advanced eHealth infrastructure. This seems to be the case in Italy (47%), Netherlands (39%) and the Nordics (34%); these countries are highlighting patient access to information as their key priority. The processing of patient generated data is particularly important to Spain (38%).

The importance of providing telemedicine services has significantly increased when comparing the results over the years. In some countries, like Germany, this rise can be linked to legislative initiatives where new reimbursement schemes incentivize the provision of such services.

“In Germany and many other countries providers must speed up empowering patients thru electronic patient records and transparency in treatment outcome. The trend to outpatient treatment will further increase if outpatient provider leverage patient records to keep patients out of hospital,” says Jochen Messember, Partner at McKinsey & Company.

Funding remains prime obstacle

The digital transformation of Europe’s healthcare systems is also facing major challenges: IT funding remains a major obstacle (37%) in particular in the UK, Spain and Germany. The lack of interoperability standards allowing for data exchange between systems (29%) and the shortage of skilled eHealth professionals (28%) are also plaguing the industry.

Jörg Studzinski, Director Research at HIMSS concludes: “The Annual European eHealth Survey 2019 shows that the development of the eHealth industry in Europe is increasingly shifting towards patient empowerment and consumer-initiated digital health. Patient owned health records, their integration into clinical workflows, and telemedicine services will be high on the agenda everywhere. In digitally more advanced regions and countries like the Nordics, the Netherlands and Spain we also see a strong focus on topics like Artificial Intelligence and Healthcare Analytics. However, many of these capabilities will enter the market with some delay due to lack of funds and workforce shortages.”

Link to the study:

https://europe.himssanalytics.org/europe/ehealth-barometer/ehealth-trend-barometer-annual-european-ehealth-survey-2019

About HIMSS Annual European eHealth Survey 2019

The European eHealth Survey 2019 is supported by the international management consulting firm McKinsey & Company and provides insight into the current priorities, challenges and trends of the eHealth industry in Europe. From September to October 2019, HIMSS surveyed over 500 eHealth experts in 30 European countries. The annual eHealth Survey has been investigating varying and recurring topics in the industry since 2017. The quantitative survey was aimed at all healthcare stakeholders in Europe: health care professionals such as doctors, nurses, IT leaders and management, policymakers, consultants, researchers and health IT software companies participated.

About HIMSS

HIMSS is a global advisor and thought leader supporting the transformation of the health ecosystem through information and technology. As a mission driven non-profit, HIMSS offers a unique depth and breadth of expertise in health innovation, public policy, workforce development, research and analytics to advise global leaders, stakeholders and influencers on best practices in health information and technology. Through our innovation engine, HIMSS delivers key insights, education and engaging events to healthcare providers, governments and market suppliers, ensuring they have the right information at the point of decision. Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, HIMSS serves the global health information and technology communities with focused operations across North America, Europe, the United Kingdom, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific. Our members include more than 80,000 individuals, 480 provider organizations, 470 non-profit partners and 650 health services organizations.

About McKinsey

McKinsey & Company is the leading top management consulting firm in Germany and around the world. Working in close collaboration with clients, McKinsey provides strategic consulting, digital transformation, talent development, risk management, marketing, design, process optimization, and functional excellence for private companies, public institutions, and social organizations. The firm’s clients include 28 of the 30 DAX companies. McKinsey has a number of offices in Germany and Austria, including Berlin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt am Main, Hamburg, Cologne, Munich, Stuttgart, and Vienna. Worldwide, the firm operates from more than 120 offices in 65 countries. McKinsey was founded in 1926, with the first office in Germany opening in 1964. Kevin Sneader is the Global Managing Partner and Cornelius Baur is responsible for Germany and Austria.

Learn more at: https://www.mckinsey.de/uber-uns

HIMSS Media Contact:

Maria Burpee
Marketing Director
mburpee@himss.org
+351 915292211

McKinsey Media Contact:

Kirsten Best-Werbunat
Manager of Media Relations, McKinsey & Company, Inc.
kirsten_best@mckinsey.com
+49 (0)211 1364688

Nikkiso Cryogenic Industries Group Acquires GP Strategies’ Alternative Fuels Division

TEMECULA, Calif., Jan. 08, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Nikkiso Cryogenic Industries’ Clean Energy and Industrial Gases Group (“Group”), a subsidiary of Nikkiso Co., Ltd (Japan), closed the acquisition of the Alternative Fuels Division from GP Strategies Corporation (Columbia, Maryland) for an undisclosed amount. The GP Strategies’ Alternative Fuels Division (“AFD”) is a recognized leader focused on the design, fabrication and maintenance of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), Liquefied to Compressed Natural Gas (LCNG), Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Hydrogen (H2) facilities.

AFD will operate as part of the Group’s Integrated Cryogenic Solutions unit (“Solutions”), and will be renamed ICS. The Solutions unit is one of five functional business units of the Group and operates independently from the Group’s product companies. Solutions provides innovative specialty engineering, centralized project management, procurement, manufacturing and maintenance, focusing on supplying complete solutions.

“We are excited for AFD to join our Nikkiso family. AFD will broaden our offering of complete solutions. We now have an individual functional unit that can provide a solution to the customer in addition to the units that deliver products. This acquisition exemplifies our passion to provide, efficient, performance based products and service,” according to Peter Wagner, CEO of Cryogenic Industries and President of the Group.

Mike Mackey, who will remain with ICS as a Senior Vice President said, “The opportunity is exciting and we look forward to being part of Nikkiso. We will meet our customers demand for the best quality, reliability, and return on their investment.”

The acquisition was effective January 1, 2020.

ABOUT CRYOGENIC INDUSTRIES
Cryogenic Industries, Inc. (now a member of Nikkiso Co., Ltd.) member companies manufacture engineered cryogenic gas processing equipment and small-scale process plants for the liquefied natural gas (LNG), well services and industrial gas industries. Founded over 50 years ago, Cryogenic Industries is the parent company of ACD, Cosmodyne and Cryoquip and a commonly-controlled group of approximately 20 operating entities.

For more information please visit www.cryoind.com and www.nikkiso.com.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Anna Quigley
+1.951.383.3314
aquigley@cryoind.com

Philippines, Japan Discuss Strengthening Indo-Pacific Security

The Philippines and Japan on Thursday discussed enhancing bilateral cooperation on security in the Indo-Pacific region, particularly the contested South China Sea, as Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi paid his first official visit to Manila in that role.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. praised Tokyo for its military and economic aid to his country, after he met with Motegi behind closed doors.

Locsin said they discussed issues that challenge the backbone of our long ties and make our friendship even stronger for the stress and weight we carry together.

Among other topics, the two ministers talked about defense and security cooperation amid China’s increasing military influence in the region, they told a joint news conference.

I was pleased with my candid exchanges with Minister Motegi on issues such as rule of law in the maritime commons and the situation in the West Philippine Sea. We committed to continue our cooperation � bilaterally and in all possible forums � to maintain peace and security, stability and the rule of law in our region, Locsin said, using the Philippine name for the South China Sea.

Beijing, Taiwan and several Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines, have overlapping territorial claims in the mineral-rich South China Sea. Beijing also has overlapping claims with Japan in the East China Sea.

Addressing reporters, Japan’s Motegi said the Philippines held the key to realizing the free and open Indo-Pacific concept advocated by Japan.

The Philippines is located at a great crossroads, which connects the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean, as well as the northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere, he said through an interpreter.

Secretary Locsin and I were able to deepen our discussion from such perspectives and agree to deepen our discussions … and agree to deepen bilateral cooperation in wide areas including security and enforcement of laws of the seas, Motegi said.

China militarizes islands

While China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed to maintain peace in region, Beijing has expanded its military presence, establishing bases and placing missiles and other weapons on islands in the South China Sea.

This week, Indonesian President Joko Jokowi Widodo visited the Natuna Islands, a chain located at the southern end of the sea, where he vowed to enforce Jakarta’s sovereignty over those islands, which lie in his country’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

Jokowi’s government backed up his stand on the issue by sending navy ships and fighter jets to waters off the islands as a response to reports that dozens of Chinese boats, including some coast guard ships, had sailed into the EEZ. On Thursday, Indonesian officials said the Chinese ships had left the waters off the Natunas.

In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte has been less aggressive against Chinese encroachment in the sea, despite a 2016 decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague that ruled in favor of Manila in a case against China.

The court said China, which claims almost of the sea as its territory, had no historical rights to it based on the Nine-Dash-Line boundary on official Chinese maps.

The Philippines and Indonesia are two of the 10 members of ASEAN.

On Thursday, the top diplomats of Japan and the Philippines also exchanged official notes on a planned project in Manila backed by Japan to reinforce bridges so they could withstand large-scale earthquakes.

In addition, Locsin announced that the Philippines had eliminated radiation test requirements for shipments of products from Japan’s Fukushima prefecture. Manila had previously required the test for beef and vegetable imports following the 2011 meltdown of a nuclear power plant that occurred after a massive quake unleashed a deadly tsunami.

The Philippines is the latest country to clear produce from Fukushima, although 20 others, including the United States, have restrictions.

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